Summary Links Web Part Malfunction

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Have you ever tried to add new columns to a Summary Links Web part and got an unexpected result?  Well, this happened to one of the clients I was working with.

It’s a simple task. Right?

When the user changed the layout of the Summary Links Web part to five columns per group, instead of getting five columns across the Web part, the columns were stacked on top of each other.


It made no difference when it was changed to any value greater than one, the columns continued to stack on top of each other.


After some research, it turned out that it was related to the theme applied to the site.  In my opinion, this is very strange.  The site’s theme was changed back to an OOTB theme, and the columns behaved the way they are expected.


Happy SharePoint-ing!


Upgrading vs. Migration to SharePoint 2016

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Choosing the right path to the new version of SharePoint, whether on-premises or online, can be overwhelming. Should you upgrade or migrate? It is important to understand that upgrade and migration are not synonymous. Some may disagree, but I truly believe that these are two different processes. Let’s get a better understanding of both options.


The technical terminology of upgrading is the physical transformation of a SharePoint content database from one schema version to the updated schema. The most common upgrade process is attaching your existing databases to the new SharePoint farm. The content remains the same, even though your new farm may be on a new hardware. From a non-technical perspective, it’s similar to remodeling your home – taking what’s old and making it new with a few more modern conveniences.



Migration is the physical move of SharePoint containers, data and associated attributes from one SharePoint farm to the new updated farm. The process is typically carried out with the aid of commercial tools. Again, using my non-technical comparison of a migration, it’s like moving from a house to a condo.


Now that we’ve seen the differences between the two, the next question is making the choice of whether to upgrade your platform or to migrate out of your current implementation.

Here are some examples of where an upgrade is recommended:

  • You’re running an out-of-support version of SharePoint
  • You need to upgrade the SharePoint farm operating system
  • Your site collections and content databases are properly architected
  • Your existing taxonomy / information architecture is well-formed and supports your current organizational structure

And here are some examples of when a migration is recommended:

  • The source document repository is not SharePoint
  • You’re migrating to SharePoint Online (Office 365)
  • You’re migrating from older SharePoint versions (SharePoint 2010 and previous)
  • Your taxonomy / information architecture needs to be redesigned
  • Content databases are too large and need to be split to improve performance or to meet your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) or Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

In summary, upgrade and migration are two different options. The best approach depends on your requirements, constraints, and business objectives. It is important to mention that certain considerations must be taken into account when deciding whether upgrading or migrating is appropriate for your organization.

Centric has assisted many organizations with upgrades and migrations. To learn more about how Centric Consulting can help with your decision to upgrade or migrate, visit us at

SharePoint 2016 – Is It Right For You?

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Ever since the announcement of SharePoint 2016 release at Microsoft Ignite there has been a steady flow about the new features on the Office Blogs.

Taking a realistic view of our customer base, more than half are still running SharePoint 2010 or earlier. Should they upgrade to SharePoint 2016 or not? Unfortunately, this question can be best answered with “it depends”. If you have ever been part of a SharePoint upgrade process, you know it’s not without hurdles, and undertaking an upgrade project should be based on both business and technical needs.

From an investment perspective
The majority of changes in SharePoint 2016 over SharePoint 2013 has been made mostly under the hood. Basically lessons learned from running SharePoint on-line brought down to on-premises. If you patch your SharePoint 2013 often, then you know that coordinating outage schedules from business users to IT resources can be a challenge. From an end-user functionality level, bringing the Data Loss Prevention (DLP) feature from Office 365 to on-premises, a new responsive design, and the release of SharePoint mobile apps may be enough reasons to consider upgrading, but for others maybe not.

What are the improved features?
If you want a closer look at what’s new in SharePoint 2016, Microsoft summarized them here. Keep in mind that Microsoft has no plans on releasing new versions of InfoPath or SharePoint Designer; so you’re “stuck” with using the 2013 versions of these two products.

Take your time
Test out the new features first, document the gotchas, specifically if you have customizations or complex solutions. Before deciding on upgrading to SharePoint 2016 you should also consider if moving to Office 365 or SharePoint on-line might be a better option.

Learn more about Centric’s Portals and Collaboration Practice


Modern Team Sites – SharePoint 2016

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Most team sites I’ve worked with are just sites that most of us use to store documents, lists, and some images or announcements on the page. After watching “The Future of SharePoint” event on May 4, 2016 also known as “Star Wars Day”, Microsoft changed my perspective on how team sites can look and function.

As Jeff Teper said during the event, “everybody knows team sites are the core of SharePoint”, the new team sites allow users to create more engaging, more intelligent SharePoint sites by leveraging the Office Graph to surface activities that are most relevant in the site. Team sites, by default, will include News and Activity. Here’s a couple of screenshots on News and Activity.



The process of creating a new page has taken Team Sites out of the dark ages and into a modern way of working. In previous versions of SharePoint, to add a simple banner to a page, takes some coding. In the new version you can simply click an image and add.

Here’s a new page before:


After selecting a background image:


The background images will automatically reformat depending of the device that you’re using. This includes your mobile devices, tablets, and desktops.

You can also add other components to the page from a gallery of Web Parts.

Desktop view:


Mobile view:


In summary, you can easily create your new intranet by a few clicks.  What I’ve seen in the webcast is just the beginning of what SharePoint has yet to come. I’m looking forward of what else it can do in the next few months.


Upgrade from SP2010 to SP2016RTM – Not Possible

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Back in March 2015, we all thought there was a possibility to upgrade directly from SP2010 to SP2016 according to this tweet.


Well, I waited until I had a chance to build out SP2016RTM.  I was eager to test it out.

Unfortunately, it was a no-go.





Upgrade SharePoint 2016 from Beta 2 to Release Candidate (RC)

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The process of upgrading from SharePoint 2016 Beta 2 to Release Candiate (RC) was pretty straight forward.

I started with my existing SP2016 VM that I already had Beta 2 installed and configured.  My VM is a single server farm with no language packs running on Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014.

The version of SP2016 on my VM before the upgrade was 16.0.1406.1001. You can download SP2016 Beta 2 here.

I downloaded the following two zip packages:

SharePoint Server 2016 Release Candidate English Prerequisite and SharePoint Server 2016 Release Candidate Global from here.

After I extracted the two zip files, I started with the PrerequisiteInstaller.exe.  I only had to reboot my server once for the .NET Framework 4.6 to complete its installation.

After the prerequisites installation process completed, I installed the sts.msp from the Global Patch zip file.

What I found interesting was the pop up window indicating that this file is from an Unknown Publisher.


After the patch was installed, it prompted for a reboot.


After the server rebooted, I checked to see what the new version would be.


Of course, it’s the same as it was before as I had yet to run the PSConfig.

After the PSConfig completed, the new version is now 16.0.4327.1000


Now, I’m ready to perform my next task – upgrade SP2013 databases.


Learn more about Centric’s Portals and Collaboration Practice


SharePoint 2016 – Change MinRole Error a72id

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After hearing and reading a whole lot about the new MinRole in SharePoint 2016, I had to see what it’s all about by building my own VM.

For this post, I installed SQL Server 2014 and SharePoint 2016 Beta on the same VM server.  I ran the SharePoint Configuration Wizard to get all services and Central Admin provisioned.

I selected the ‘Single-Server Farm’ in the Server Role wizard.


I checked ‘Servers in this farm’, so far so good.


I then tried to convert from ‘Single-Server Farm’ to ‘Application’ using Central Administration.  I got this lovely ‘Sorry, something went wrong’ message.


So, I searched the ULS and found these two entries.

12/29/2015 09:21:35.41         OWSTIMER.EXE (0x109C)                           0x316C        SharePoint Foundation                 Topology                             a72id        Exception        Failed converting server ‘VMSP2016T’ from ‘Application’ to ‘Application’ role. System.InvalidOperationException: Invalid search service unprovisioning: application ‘Search Service Application’ still has a ready component ‘in search service instance’ on server ‘VMSP2016T’.     at Microsoft.Office.Server.Search.Administration.SearchServiceInstance.ThrowIfComponentsRunning()     at Microsoft.Office.Server.Search.Administration.SearchServiceInstance.Unprovision()     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPServerRoleManager.<>c__DisplayClass4.<UnprovisionServiceInstance>b__3()     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPServerRoleManager.ConfigureServiceInstanceInternal(SPServiceInstance serviceInstance, Action configureAction)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPServerRoleManager.C…        9b04509d-281a-f0ea-9175-4a569f8e73cf

12/29/2015 09:21:35.41*        OWSTIMER.EXE (0x109C)                           0x316C        SharePoint Foundation                 Topology                             a72id        Exception        …onfigureServiceInstance(SPServiceInstance serviceInstance)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPServerRoleManager.ConfigureServer(Boolean throwOnFailure)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPServerRoleConversionJobDefinition.Execute(Guid targetInstanceId) StackTrace: at onetnative.dll: (sig=55ee5f49-67a4-4a49-9862-19eec61e14d2|2|onetnative.pdb, offset=3712D) at onetnative.dll: (offset=1E35E)        9b04509d-281a-f0ea-9175-4a569f8e73cf

I tried unprovisioning, re-provisioning Search and all of its components, and tried and tried without success to convert to the ‘Application’ role.

I ended up disconnecting and reconnecting the server from its configuration database via PowerShell.  Credit for this solution goes to Nik Charlebois.

Disconnect-SPConfigurationDatabase -Confirm:$False

Connect-SPConfigurationDatabase -DatabaseServer SharePointDB -DatabaseName SharePoint_Config -Passphrase (ConvertTo-SecureString “P@ssw0rd1” -AsPlainText -Force) -LocalServerRole “Application”



As you can see from the Get-SPServer command that the server is now running as an ‘Application’ role.

Just to re-validate, I launched Central Admin and voila!  My server is now configured as ‘Application’.